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Follicular lymphoma

Follicular lymphoma (FL) is a form of indolent (slow-growing) non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).

It is a malignant condition (cancer) affecting a type of white blood cells called lymphocytes. It is the most common type of indolent lymphoma and the second most common type of NHL after diffuse large B cell lymphoma. There are several different types of lymphocyte – FL affects a type known as B cells, which normally produce antibodies to fight infection. Unlike leukaemia, in lymphoma, the cancer cells are found in organs and tissues of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a network of fine vessels, glands and channels which occur throughout the body. It also conveys nutrients and cells, and is responsible for draining fluid and waste products away from tissues, and into the blood stream to be processed. The lymphatic system is an important part of the immune system and is made up of lymph nodes and vessels and of collections of lymphocytes in other tissues.

Follicular lymphoma is treatable, but is not generally considered curable unless it is caught at very early stage involving a single lymph node where radiotherapy can cure the disease in half of the patients. Follicular lymphoma is a low-grade form of NHL, this means that it develops slowly and, even if not treated, it grows slowly. A minority of patients may have very indolent disease, which may not progress for decades. Follicular describes the appearance of affected lymph nodes under the microscope.

  • Published: Mar 2017
  • Next planned review: Mar 2019